Tune Your Network to Perfection

By Lauren Simonds | Posted December 22, 2005

Scan, identify and control may sound like the Sci-Fi mantra of alien invaders, but it's simply a method that a company called Cymphonix employs to help small businesses keep their networks operating safely and more efficiently.


Cymphonix Network Composer
Click here for a larger image.

Cymphonix, a 25-employee company based in Sandy, Utah has just released the latest version of its gateway security appliance, Network Composer. Designed to improve network efficiency and performance, the device sits on the LAN side of the firewall and can either replace or augment the firewall.

According to Cymphonix, Network Composer provides two main functions. It protects against the following:

  • Spyware
  • Malware
  • Adware
  • Viruses
  • Trojan horses
  • Inappropriate content
  • Peer-to-peer downloading

It's also designed to optimize your network by showing you which people and which applications within your organization use the most bandwidth. And it lets you allocate network resources based on the findings.

Joel Lowry, a marketing engineer at Cymphonix, calls Network Composer a three-in-one device, and says it's the only existing product that offers unified threat management, application performance and control and real-time reporting on network traffic flow all in one box.

"Companies often have three different appliances to provide the same solutions, which only creates more network latency and drives up costs," he said.

Lowry explained that Network Composer scans — and differentiates among — all types of network traffic. It can tell the difference between someone downloading a video and sending an e-mail, for example.

The technology behind this scanning and identification comes from what the company calls its Cross-Layer Intelligence (XLi) engine. It scans networking communications, identifies the various types of traffic by referring to "industry-leading dynamic libraries" and gives you complete control over all of it.

Why should you care? Lowry says this type of traffic identification can help you prioritize your network traffic and allocate — or restrict — resources to individuals or even applications that require more — or use too much — bandwidth.

For example, if the folks in marketing are downloading quite a collection of MP3 tunes while leaving the your accounting department scrambling for enough bandwidth to send out all the .pdf invoice files, you can restrict MP3 network traffic and prioritize the applications that accounting uses.


Cymphonix Network Composer dashboard
Click here for a larger image.

Eyeballing the Network
According to Lowry, the device makes it easy for companies to monitor the network activity. "Composer offers high visibility by taking all the reports on network activity and providing the information in one, simple to read dashboard interface," he said. The dashboard lets you track various functions at a glance:

  • View network activity by threats, abuses and mission-critical traffic
  • Identify threats and access overall performance
  • View user activity and create policies to improve performance

Pricing
The Network Composer (model NC75) supports up to 75 users, and it sells for $1,995.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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